Summer Rolls

updated Apr 4, 2024
summer
Summer Rolls Recipe
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(Image credit: Jeff Roffman)

Summer rolls, also known as fresh spring rolls, are one of my favorite things to order at a restaurant. They are made from rice paper wrappers rolled around fresh crunchy vegetables partnered with cold proteins, fresh herbs, and sometimes noodles. Gỏi cuốn are Vietnamese in origin (along with chả giò, which are fried spring rolls) but there are countless variations of fillings made with an assortment of veggies and proteins.

Summer rolls are also easy to make at home! Maybe the first roll or two will be a bit flimsy (but no less tasty), but soon you’ll be filling rice paper wrappers with cool and fresh fillings before every summer picnic or summer cookout.

Quick Overview

Tips for Making the Best Summer Rolls

  1. Before you begin rolling, set up a work station. Have the shrimp, vegetable filling, rice noodles, fresh herbs, and lettuce organized on a baking sheet. Pick out a serving platter. Clear off your counter or cutting board. Fill a pie pan with room temperature water and then open the rice paper wrappers and prepare to roll.
  2. Soften the rice paper in room temperature water. Hot water makes the rice paper incredibly sticky and prone to breaking, while room temperature water will continue to soften the wrapper as it sits, making the wrapper just pliable but tender once rolled.
  3. Wrap the vegetables and noodles inside the lettuce. This makes wrapping easier, but also makes the presentation neater and the rolls easier to eat.

Key Ingredients in Summer Rolls

  • Rice paper wrappers: Look for round rice paper wrappers, 8 1/2-inches in diameter.
  • Dried cellophane noodles: They’re also called also called bean thread noodles.
  • Shrimp: You’ll need raw shrimp that are peeled and deveined, with tails removed.
  • Bibb or butter lettuce: The leaves of butterhead lettuces are mild and extremely tender.
  • Veggies: We like crunchy radishes, seedless cucumber, carrot, and scallion for the filling.
  • Sauce for the veggie filling: Toss the veggie filling in a mixture of rice vinegar, sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice.
  • Fresh herbs: You can use fresh basil or mint leaves (or a combination of both).

How to Make Summer Rolls

  1. Cook the shrimp. Cook the shrimp in boiling water for 1 minute, then immediately transfer them to the ice water bath. Let them sit for 5 minutes, then drain. Butterfly the shrimp and set aside.
  2. Make the vegetable filling. Whisk the vinegar, sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice together in a large bowl. Add the cucumber, carrot, radishes, and scallion, and toss to combine.
  3. Cook the noodles. Return the pan of water from cooking the shrimp to a boil, turn off the heat, add the noodles, and let sit until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the noodles, transfer them to a bowl, add the sesame oil, and toss to combine.
  4. Soften a wrapper. Fill a pie plate halfway with room temperature water. Immerse 1 wrapper in the water until it softens, about 30 seconds. Use both hands to pull it up out of the water, being careful so it doesn’t collapse on itself, and immediately lay it flat on a clean work surface.
  5. Fill the wrapper. Place 2 to 3 mint or basil leaves down the wrapper, just slightly to the left of center. Place 3 to 4 pieces of shrimp cut-side up on the herbs. Place a piece of lettuce in your hand, then fill evenly with 1/4 cup of the vegetable mixture and 1 to 2 tablespoons of noodles. Place the lettuce cup to the right of the shrimp, leaving a small gap.
  6. Roll up the summer roll. Fold the top and bottom of the wrapper over the filling. Fold the left side over the shrimp and continue rolling tightly to the right until it’s closed and snug. Place it on a baking sheet seam-side down and cover with a damp towel.
  7. Serve. To serve, cut each roll in half crosswise if desired and serve with nước chấm (Vietnamese dipping fish sauce) or creamy peanut sauce for dipping.

Summer Roll Shortcuts

  • Use pre-cooked shrimp: Buy pre-cooked shrimp either from the freezer section or your fishmonger. Some seafood departments will steam shrimp for you.
  • Use pre-shredded carrots: Pick up a bag of shredded carrots from the produce section.
  • Skip the rice noodles: Although they are traditional, the rolls will be just as good without them.

 What to Serve with Summer Rolls

These summer rolls are delicious on their own with nước chấm (Vietnamese dipping fish sauce) or creamy peanut sauce for dipping. You can also serve them along with some of our favorite recipes.

Make-Ahead Tips

  • To prep the ingredients ahead: Almost all of the ingredients can be made ahead — the shrimp, vegetable filling, and even the rice noodles can be cooked and chilled the day before. Store the cooked rice noodles in cool water to keep them from sticking.
  • To make the summer rolls ahead: These summer rolls can be made up to 2 hours in advance. Keep tightly covered in plastic wrap at room temperature.

Summer Rolls Recipe

Makes 16 rolls

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the filling:

  • 1 quart

    water

  • 24

    medium uncooked shrimp (about 1 pound), peeled, deveined, and tails removed

  • 1/2 tablespoon

    rice vinegar

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon

    fish sauce

  • Juice 1/2 medium lime (about 1 tablespoon)

  • 1

    small seedless cucumber, julienned

  • 1

    medium carrot, peeled and julienned

  • 2

    large radishes, julienned

  • 1

    medium scallion, thinly sliced

To assemble the rolls:

  • 4 ounces

    dried cellophane noodles (also called bean threads)

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    toasted sesame oil

  • 16

    (8 1/2-inch) rice paper wrappers

  • 30

    fresh basil or mint leaves

  • 8

    leaves bibb or butter lettuce, halved

Instructions

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  1. Bring 1 quart water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Have an ice water bath ready. Add 1 pound uncooked shrimp to the boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Immediately remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon to the ice water bath. Let sit for 5 minutes, then drain. Slice the shrimp in half horizontally (also known as butterflying) and set aside. Reserve the warm water for cooking the noodles.

  2. Whisk 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon fish sauce, and the juice from 1/2 medium lime together in a large bowl. Add the julienned cucumber, julienned carrot, julienned radishes, and thinly sliced scallion, and toss to combine; set aside.

  3. If the noodles are very long, break them into smaller bits. Return the pan of water from cooking the shrimp to a boil, then turn off the heat, add 4 ounces dried cellophane noodles, and let sit until tender, about 10 minutes (check the package directions for times). Drain the noodles, transfer them to a bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, and toss to combine; set aside.

  4. Fill a pie plate halfway with room temperature water. Immerse 1 wrapper in the water until it softens, about 30 seconds. Use both hands to pull it up out of the water, being careful so it doesn't collapse on itself, and immediately lay it flat on a clean work surface.

  5. Place 2 to 3 mint or basil leaves down the wrapper, just slightly to the left of center. Place 3 to 4 pieces of shrimp cut-side up on the herbs. Place a piece of lettuce in your hand, then fill evenly with 1/4 cup of the vegetable mixture and 1 to 2 tablespoons of noodles. Place the lettuce cup to the right of the shrimp, leaving a small gap.

  6. Fold the top and bottom of the wrapper over the filling. Fold the left side over the shrimp and continue rolling tightly to the right until it's closed and snug. Place it on a baking sheet seam-side down and cover with a damp towel. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling, adding more water to the pie dish as needed.

  7. To serve, cut each roll in half crosswise if desired and serve with peanut sauce for dipping.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: These summer rolls can be made up to 2 hours in advance. Keep tightly covered in plastic wrap at room temperature.